1864: Unidentified woman to Mollie

This letter was written by an unidentified Southern woman who was most likely from Caldwell county, North Carolina. She describes the state of conflict that existed in the mountains of Western North Carolina in 1864 as guerrilla warfare prevailed.


Mulberry Valley
September 5th 1864

My dear Mollie,

When we parted I thought I would write to you immediately but have neglected it until the present time. But I hope, my dear Mollie, will not think I have been forgetful of her if I have been a little negligent, for I can assure her I have thought of her very often.

We have had company almost all the time for more than a month. Consequently I’ve been very closely confined at home. I’ve been having a mighty nice time too. I suppose Nealie told you about her trip up here. Wish you could have been here too. I haven’t see the girls since they were here, but hear from them very often. They write once or twice a week.

Pinck ¹ came home wounded in the last Friday—a flesh wound in the right side and arm between the elbow & shoulder. His wound is doing very well & he has every hope of being well very soon. He has a furlough of forty days. That seems a long time but it will soon pass away. He was wounded on the 15th of August & was very sick for several days afterwards, but is very well now.

Oh! Mollie, we have the sweetest dearest little babe here you ever did see! Her name is Mary Louisa—named for you & I—& of course she is sweet and good. She was three weeks old yesterday evening. How often I have thought of dear little Lillie since she has been here. She reminds me of her so much. I wish you could see her now. I think you would think so too. Do come and see her. She’ll feel slighted if my friends don’t visit her. She & I are such great friends. She is so good I fear we will spoil her—has never been sick. Mag is quite well but looks a little thin. She sends much love to you and says you must come and see your namesake.

We had two letters from Uncle Will last week. He was quite well but very anxious to get home. Says he does not expect to be exchanged very soon.

I hear from Aunt Mollie almost every week. She writes that she intends to come up this fall. I do hope she will. I am so anxious to see her.

There was a good Southern man killed by the tories about twelve miles from here on last Sunday was a week ago. His name was [Wiliam] Coffey. ² He was treated very unkindly by them before they killed him. I understand the Home Guard have been hunting them up for more than a week & I hope they will get them. Only three made their appearance. Capt. Bingham’s new wounded one of the tories, & ere still in pursuit when the last heard from them.

Dr. Glass is in Mitchell County now helping to take up deserters. Will be gone twenty days. I think we need all the men we can “rake and scrape” in our own county to drive back the invaders from the mountains. They have threaded to kill every Southern man in the Globe [township] & vicinity. Those they have threatened to kill are afraid to stay at home. They stay in the bushes during the day and slip home at night. This is a dreadful state of affairs! We may be in danger but I don’t feel at all afraid.

Lieut. Glass ³—Dr.’s brother, was up here on a visit last week. He is at home wounded (was wounded at Plymouth). He is mighty pleasant & very entertaining. Wish he has been here when the girls were here. I think they would have liked him. They have a new beau now—Lieut. Col. Patton. I reckon Jim Norwood, poor fellow! stands a poor chance, though they pretend to care very little for the Lt. Col.

I hope you will write very soon. I have been compelled to write hurriedly having other letters to write by this mail. All join me in love to you and cousin Robert. Are you not coming up this fall? We would be delighted to see both of you at our house at any time. I will send you some flower seed—summer phlox—in my next letter. They are not ripe now.

With much love to you & cousin Robert, I am as ever yours affectionately, — Till

¹ Possibly William Pinck Welch (b. 1838) who was a 1st Lieutenant in Co. C, 25th North Carolina Infantry. Pinck was married to Margaret (“Maggie”) Elizabeth Bradley (1845-1923) and resided in Watauga county, North Carolina.

² William Coffey was a Southern man who lived in Caldwell county and was active in fleshing out deserters and other local residents who opposed the war and who avoided conscription into the Confederate service. By early 1864 as the Confederate cause slumped, Union sympathizers in this region became emboldened and aided Confederate deserters. A lawless guerrilla warfare prevailed. William Coffey was hunted down by “Keith” Blalock, a Union sympathizer, whose men forced Coffey to go half a mile with them to James Gragg’s Mill and sit astride a rude bench where he was shot. 

³ Possible David P. Glass, 2nd Lieutenant – Previously served as Private in Company G, 1st Regiment N.C. Infantry (6 months, 1861). Enlisted in this company on May 1, 1862, for the war. Mustered in as Private. Wounded at Malvern Hill, Virginia, July 1, 1862. Returned to duty on an unspecified date. Promoted to Sergeant in November, 1862. Appointed 2nd Lieutenant on June 30, 1863. Reported present during November, 1864-February, 1865.

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